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Opportunity and timing the entrepreneurial key for Australian green energy leadership


The fundamental trait of an entrepreneur is the innate ability to seize an opportunity at the perfect time and exploit that opportunity to its fullest potential.

Australia is sitting on its greatest economic opportunity in history and we as a country – from government and universities to individual entrepreneurs – must work together to ensure that opportunity flourishes.

As our country’s preeminent Professor of Economics, Ross Garnaut is going to great lengths to point out to the broader community that Australia could be on the verge of becoming a global energy “Superpower” and potentially one to rival the Middle East.

It is no secret that Australia is extremely fortunate to be located among the greatest renewable energy resources on the planet with its unique combination of solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy.

When blackouts hit South Australia, it became the laughing stock of the country with its early moves to a more renewable future, but together with a bold Government facing a continual barrage of energy issues, SA has enabled the early deployment of grid scale batteries combined with solar and wind and is now planning the first pumped hydro developments in Australia to stabilise the grid and firm the intermittent generation from solar and wind. The state is now ahead of the game, and on its way to 100 per cent renewables with a pathway to 500 per cent renewables (yes 5X its demand) and a centre for clean energy exports globally.

That example is leading the way and the rest of the country needs to take heed and follow quickly so that we don’t lose this opportunity to be a leading nation in what is a renewable future.

Grasping the business potential in green energy

There is both the entrepreneurial opportunity and the right timing over the next five years to develop and position Australia globally as a leader in renewable energy and all that comes from it.

When you have abundant, low cost clean electricity at hand, combined with some of the best clean mineral and agricultural resources in the world, suddenly anything that is energy intensive can become a reality.

We have some of the best clean silicon, graphite and rare earth resources together with our traditional resource base that can now be refined and developed for li-ion batteries and solar panels, we can enrich uranium for export to those countries that still have a nuclear energy sector.

I believe they should deal with their own waste as this creates an incentive to move to the new global energy resource in clean hydrogen, which of course Australia will be best positioned to manufacture, by running clean excess electricity from solar and wind through water.

Hydrogen is also rocket fuel and together with our clear uncongested skies makes for a perfect polar launch pad supporting the Australian Space Agency.

Energy and space also support our burgeoning defence sector that in turn promotes a strong medical research sector and smart manufacturing that will include electric and autonomous vehicles.

Our globally recognised wine and food sector tops it all off and promotes the incredible lifestyle we are fortunate to have in Australia.

This kind of reformation won’t happen by itself and as a country we must act entrepreneurially to ensure we don’t lose the opportunities.

We need to ensure our education institutions and business incubators are aligned with the country’s unique economic opportunities. We need to foster the development of businesses that will prosper given these advantageous conditions and attract researchers, students and businesses globally that want to be at the forefront of future clean energy and the innovation that flows from that.

Professor Richard Turner is the UniSA Entrepreneur in Residence and Professor of Practice, a renowned Australian Entrepreneur, Leader and Innovator. He has founded four successful companies across four different industry sectors, was South Australian Entrepreneur of the Year for two of those companies 14 years apart (1996 & 2010) and Australian Entrepreneur of the Year for the Cleantech sector in 2010. His most recent venture, ZEN Energy was recognised as the fastest growing company in South Australia for 2010 & 2011 and the 4th fastest growing company in Australia in 2012 (BRW magazine).

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